Organizers are hoping at least 1,000 volunteers will hit more than 50 beaches April 25 for the Washington Coast Cleanup, the largest such effort in the state. They will work on beaches from Cape Disappointment State Park north to Neah Bay and east along the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Port Townsend.
Last April, more than 1,000 volunteers picked up more than 10 tons of trash off of Washington’s beaches. Since the April event began in 2000, more than 12,000 volunteers have removed more than 350 tons of marine trash.
Online registration is open for volunteers to select a favorite beaches to clean.
“If registration is still open for the beach you are interested in cleaning, that means we still need your help,” said Jon Schmidt, Washington CoastSavers coordinator.
“We hope to have over 1,000 volunteers picking tens of tons of trash in one day, mostly in a few hours. I don't know what's cooler than that,” Schmidt added.
This beach cleanup always falls on the Saturday nearest Earth Day. Spring also is a good time to collect the debris that has built up on the state’s beaches throughout the winter months when storms wash it ashore and access can be difficult due to the weather, Schmidt said.
Beaches to be cleaned include multiple state parks, miles of wilderness coast within the Olympic National Park and Indian reservations, including some not typically open to the public.
Carol Bernthal, superintendent of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, said the need for volunteers is as great as ever.
“As anyone knows who walks our coastal beaches, marine debris continues to be an issue, long after the feared arrival of marine debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami,” Bernthal said in a prepared statement. “It tells us several things: We are connected across an ocean, we need to pay attention at home and in the world at large, and we can make a difference.”
Washington CoastSavers is an alliance of partners and volunteers working to keeping the state’s beaches clean of marine debris. Some groups have been conducting cleanups since 1971. Founding members of CoastSavers include representatives from the Lions Club International, Discover Your Northwest, Grass Roots Garbage Gang, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Olympic National Park and Washington State Parks.
Other partners support the volunteer efforts by providing “thank you” barbecues. Among those planned at this time are Twin Harbors State Park, Kalaloch Lodge, Ozette Ranger Station, Three Rivers Fire Station, Hobuck Beach Resort and Chito Beach Resort. New this year will be a seafood boil at Seabrook that will be a fundraiser for future cleanups.
Schmidt said volunteers are urged to register online so organizers can plan logistics for the day.
“We want to have enough bags and burgers,” Schmidt said.
There are a couple of events planned for that weekend for volunteers working in the Forks area.
It will begin with a Trashion Show at 7 p.m. April 24 at the new Rainforest Arts Center. This is a fun artwear event, free and open to all ages, using trash as the medium to create a piece for the runway.
The night of the cleanup, at 7 p.m., will be the Rivers and Ocean Film Festival. Short films from the Olympic Peninsula and beyond will highlight the beauty and opportunity of this region, as well as some of the issues faced by its marine and freshwater habitats and human residents. The event is free and open to all.